Chinese Academic on WSJ Reporters’ Expulsion: Butts have to be spanked

The following is a translation of an opinion article by Yang Hanyi, a regular columnist with the internet newsmagazine Guanchazhe Online (aka “Observer”), and researcher at the Shanghai Spring and Autumn Development Strategy Institute.

Guanchazhe is privately-run, according to this Wiki, and seems to be replacing “Huanqiu Shibao” as a voice for post-1990 fenqings, plus indignant little emperors of all ages.

Yang’s article goes far beyond the WSJ “incident” – and this probably reflects the political motivation behind revoking the three press credentials. It appears to reflect Beijing’s frustration with American sanction policies, the murder of Qasem Soleimani, and the demonstrations in Hong Kong (blamed on the West), among others. It also tries to sketch a roadmap of how to deal with the press in future.

However, Guanchazhe notes that the article’s content is only the opinion of the author, and not written on behalf of the platform.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

On February 19, a spokesman of China’s foreign ministry announced at a press conference that from that day onwards, the credentials of three Beijing reporters of America’s “Wall Street Journal” would be revoked. In peoples’ memory, this is the first time in the decades of reform and opening up that the government has handed down an “edict of expulsion” against several reporters of the same medium at the same time.

2月19日,中国外交部发言人在记者会上宣布,即日起吊销美国《华尔街日报》三名驻京记者证件。在人们的记忆中,这是改革开放几十年来中国政府首次对来自同一家国际媒体的多名记者同时下“逐客令”。

I’d just like to say: “well done”.

对此我只想说“干得漂亮”。

As is well known, this incident started with the “WSJ”‘s publication of a flow of racism and prejudice, “China is the real sick man in Asia”, slandering the Chinese government’s and peoples’ great efforts to resist the new coronavirus epidemic. Once this was published, many netizens rushed forth the the “WSJ”‘s social media accounts and denounced the racism. America’s nationwide broadcaster NBC, in a report, also criticized the “WSJ”‘s headline as it could create fear, anxieties, and a hostile mood. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, on February 6, named the author and criticized his arrogance, prejudice and ignorance. But facing the stern message of the Chinese side, [the WSJ] then turned to summoning the pretense of freedom of the press and of speech. For a while, the author said that the choice of the headline was freedom of editing, for a while they said that they had meant to refer to the Ottoman Empire without malign intentions, and even that [The remaining accusations are beyond my translation skills, but this article may reflect all or some of them]. Do they really believe that people don’t know those things behind western media?

众所周知,这起事件的起因是《华尔街日报》2月3日发表了一篇流淌着种族主义偏见的文章《中国是真正的“亚洲病夫”》,诋毁中国政府和人们抗击新冠疫情的努力。此文一发,大批网民涌至作者和《华尔街日报》社交媒体页面上留言指责种族主义。美国全美广播公司在报道中也批评《华尔街日报》的标题可能制造恐惧、焦虑和敌对情绪。中国外交部发言人华春莹更是于2月6日点名批评该文作者的傲慢、偏见和无知。但面对中方的严正交涉,他们又搬出新闻自由、言论自由的幌子,一会儿作者说起标题是编辑的自由,一会儿说我们没有恶意只是玩了个奥斯曼帝国的梗,一会儿说我们甚至以病夫自黑呢。如今中国采取惩罚措施,《华尔街日报》发行人威廉•刘易斯又甩的一手好锅,说评论部门惹的祸,不好怪到新闻记者头上来哟,真以为人们不知道西方媒体背后那些事呢?

In recent years, everyone has clearly seen America’s so-called great-power competition, not only in correct and fitting words in national defense strategy papers, not only by openly kidnapping the international community with domestic laws*), not only by telling the world with an honest face that we “tell lies, cheat and steal”, not only trampling on international conventions for the protection of diplomats by public assassination, but also by carrying a gun and a stick on a somewhat concealed battlefield which is the battle of public opinion.

近年来大家都看清了美国所谓的大国竞争,不仅名正言顺地写在国防战略报告里;不仅堂而皇之用国内法绑架国际社会;不仅正大光明地告诉世界“我们撒谎、欺骗、偷窃”;不仅践踏保护外交人员的国际公约公然行刺,也包括在另一片略微隐蔽的战场上夹枪带棒,这就是舆论话语的战斗。

Yang’s article describes news media as rather low-cost “mouthpieces of national interests” with a frequently high impact on international public opinion and politics, while America hardly found a way to compete with Huawei. And while an old-style empire’s embarrassing situation was understandable, and while one could even appreciate the comical nature of foreign medias’ blackening of China, butts that deserved a spanking still needed to be spanked (但好笑归好笑,屁股该打还是要打的).

It continues with a tour of American crimes and double standards (perceived or real – you decide from case to case), from a recently announced obligation for China’s state or party media to register as foreign agents or diplomatic missions in the US, to an NBA executive’s support of Hong Kong’s democracy movement (instigating chaos elements in HK / 怂恿乱港分子), the publication of a coronavirus-China-state-flag cartoon in Denmark, the WSJ’s sick-man-of-Asia statement, and inconsistencies in measures against anti-semitic or anti-black messages online while lacking protection of China against being being scolded.

The “Charlie Hebdo” massacre is broached, too, and so is responsibility as the other side of the coin (freedom being the other one).

Has the “WSJ” published free speech which insults Chinese? Yes. Must it be held responsible for publishing such remarks? Yes.

《华尔街日报》有没有发表侮辱中国人文章的言论自由?有。那它需不需要为发表这样的言论负责?需要。

The article then refers to Singapore as a place to learn from, when dealing with “misreporting”, citing a lawsuit by Lee Kuan Yew against the Far Eastern Economic Review‘s editor-in-chief as an example – according to the author, that was in 1989 -, and a case against the Asia WSJ, also in Singapore, in 1991, about contempt of court.

Yang on the other hand cites Beijing’s “unreliable entities list” as a conceivable tool.

____________

Note

*) There are probably two aspects to this accusation. One could be the US sanctions regime against Iran (and maybe also against North Korea, even if China officially supports those), and another would be a widely held belief that there is a rift between the US and the rest of the West about how to interact with China.

____________

Related

FMPRC daily briefing online, Febr 19, 2020
Be more Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009

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